The Old Road Wine Co, a Franschhoek-based winery making some impressive single-vineyard wines


Launched in November 2018. Owned by. The idea is to make interesting wines with good stories. These are terroir driven, ranging from 85-600 R a bottle. Single vineyards within Franschhoek and old vines, and other areas.

Part of the larger Douglas Green Bellingham (DGB) group, and owned by Tim Hutchinson, CEO of DGB and some other shareholders, The Old Road Wine Co began in 2017, with the concept of specializing in single region, single vineyard wines. ‘We work very closely with farmers but we don’t want to reinvent the wheel,’ says Ryan Puttick, chief winemaker (pictured above). The first wines were released in November 2018.

The winery has a cellar door in Franschhoek, and some of its most interesting wines actually come from special sites in the valley, so this isn’t merely playing to the tourist traffic: some wineries with cellar doors here don’t make any Franschhoek wines. There’s a clear commitment here to making the top sites in Franschhoek famous, and thus securing the future of the vineyards.

Ryan’s approach isn’t fully natural, but it is innovative. He does a lot of wild ferment, and uses whole bunch fermentations for many of the reds. Elevage is often in amphora, larger barrels, older oak and oak with blond toasting. ‘It’s about showcasing great fruit,’ he says.

He’s also working with more soilds in the ferments for the whites. ‘If you settle with enzymes and it is clear you get 30 NTU,’ he says. But he’s moving to using higher NTUs and not using enzymes for some of the wines. ‘When you settle, the top fine lees have loads of flavour and texture.’ He says that if he raises turbidity to 150 NTUs, ‘you can ferment naturally and leave the wine on lees for as long as you want.’ Sometimes he takes the wine to barrel and adds back some of these juice lees.’

In terms of terracotta, Ryan uses the Arte Nova (Italian) clay pots. ‘These brings zestiness and makes the wines quite linear.’

After tasting we visited one of Franschhoek’s most famous Semillon vineyards, La Colline (above). This was planted in 1936, and unusually for a South African old vine vineyard it’s planted at high density, with 7000 vines per hectare. The Old Road Wine Co take most, but grapes are also sold to Chris Alheit, Boekenhoutskloof, Adam Mason (Raised by Wolves) and Ian Naudé. It’s at around 350 m on a southern slope, and there’s around 10% of Semillon Gris here (pink-skinned Semillon that’s a skin-colour mutation, and thus a clone, of Semillon). The vineyard was planted by Antonie Roux, the grandfather of the current owner Anton Roux. 


The Old Road Wine Co Anemos Chenin Blanc 2022 Swartland
13.5% alcohol. The Greek god of wind. 2500 litre foudre, inoculated, plus 500 litre old barrels wild ferment. Lovely texture and intensity here with some spice and apricot as well as citrus and pear fruit. Nice depth here with fine spiciness and a twist of almond. Shows good concentration and balance with a slight saltiness on the finish. 93/100

The Old Road Wine Co Stone Trail Single Vineyard Wine Chenin Blanc 2019 Franschhoek
13% alcohol. From a vineyard planted in 1982. 3.5 tons/ha, picked in small crates, chilled overnight, then pressed to clay or barrel. Wild ferment. 15% new oak. Quite full in colour, this is ripe and detailed with mandarin, apricot and peach as well as some grapefruit freshness. There’s some warmth here, with a touch of honey on the finish, and good acidity. 92/100

The Old Road Wine Co Grand-Mère Semillon 2022 Franschhoek
Picked in small crates, then overnight in the cooler, then wild ferment in 500 litre barrels or clay (15%). From La Colline, which is a high density vineyard (7000 vines/ha) with some Semillon Gris in it, planted in 1936. This is picked together with the regular blanc. This is a serious wine with power but also delicacy, showing fine citrus, a twist of apricot, some pear skin, with a chalky minerality and hints of salinity. Such a layered, textured wine with real purity. 95/100

The Old Road Wine Co Grand-Mère Semillon 2021 Franschhoek
This has some waxy, toasty complexity with fine spices, nice citrus and pear and crystalline acidity. Concentrated and finely spiced with subtle honey and a hint of white pepper. Such precision here, allied to depth. Lovely stuff. 94/100

The Old Road Wine Co 12 Mile Syrah 2022 Swartland
13% alcohol. 18 year old vines, weathered shale soils. 10% whole bunch, with crushed fruit on top, low extraction style, goes to old barrels. Textured, elegant and refined with some peppery hints and fresh black cherry and blackberry fruit with a sense of elegance. Opens up with some olive and white pepper after a while. Silky and refined with beautiful balance and freshness. A beautiful expression of Syrah with a twist of the northern Rhône in the mix, even. 95/100

The Old Road Wine Co Pepper Wind Syrah Limited Release 2022 Franschhoek
12.5% alcohol. On the slopes of a hill above the valley, at 400 m, with plenty of wind. There’s a lot of rotundone here hence the name. Make 4 500 litre barrels of these. 40% whole bunch, fermented in small one-ton open fermenters, managed gently, basket pressed. Light in colour, this is a bright, peppery Syrah with a sense of elegance and purity. Fine and layered with beautiful purity and focus, finishing with white pepper and liquorice. 96/100

Older notes from November 2019

The Old Road Wine Co Juliette Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Elgin
Lots of green, chalky methoxypyrazine character. Vivid and intense with high acidity and some green notes as well as rich pear fruit. Nice grapefruit notes. Green but with nice tension. 89/100 (110 R)

The Old Road Wine Co Le Courier Chenin Blanc 2019 Western Cape
Somerset West. Unoaked, picked early, cool fermentation. Fruity and lively with juicy lemon and mandarin notes. Fruity and expressive with good purity. Has nice focus and brightness, showing some richness as well as the brightness. 87/100 (75 R)

The Old Road Wine Co French Corner White 2018
50% Verdelho (Stellenbosch), with the balance Viognier (Franschhoek) and Grenache Blanc (Perderberg). Fermented in older barrels, with some 500 and 600 litres. This is fresh and textured with nice bright citrus fruit and a bit of pear and melon. There’s a delicious savoury, stony character, showing good acidity and a touch of oak spice. A distinctive, lovely dry white. 92/100

The Old Road Wine Co Pardonnez Moi Cinsaut 2019
Unoaked Cinsualt from Pardeberg and Simonsberg.  Fresh, juicy and lively with bright, juicy red cherry and raspberry fruit. Primary and juicy with nice focus and freshness.  Joyful and smashable. Very primary. 89/100

The Old Road Wine Co The Fat Man Pinotage 2018
Parderberg, and a little bit of Stellenbosch. Fermented on staves, then older barrels. Concentrated, fresh and juicy with sweet berry fruits, some herbal hints and a bit of grip.  Fruit-driven and supple. Hint of sour cherry. 87/100

The Old Road Wine Co French Corner Red 2018
Mourvedre, Grenache Noir, Shiraz and a splash of Viognier. Concrete tank ferment then older barrels. Fresh, juicy and a bit spicy, with nicely elegant ripe red and black fruits. Has a juicy, crunchy edge to it. Subtle green hints add energy to the fruit. Drinkable and delicious. 90/100

The Old Road Wine Co Spotted Hound 2018
This is a Mediterranean blend, mostly from Paarl. Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah. Fermented in cement tanks and then goes to older barrels. Supple and bright with good acidity and nice precision. Has taut raspberry and plum fruit with herbs and tar. Vibrant with good acidity, and just 13% alcohol. Grippy finish. 89/100

The Old Road Wine Co The Butcher and Cleaver Cape Blend 2017
30% Pinotage (Paarl), with Shiraz (Bottelary Hills) and a bit of Mourvedre (Parderberg). 35% new oak. Structured, a bit minty, and powerful with sweet blackberry and cherry fruit, with some oak. Grippy finish with some freshness. A bold wine. 88/100

The Old Road Wine Co Anemos Chenin Blanc 2018 Coastal Region
Some from Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Durbanville. Hand picked into kissies, put them in a cooler, then process them. Press, settle and go straight to barrel, half wild ferment. Subtle toast with some peach and apricot richness countered by nice acidity. Has weight but also freshness with lovely detail and precision. This is very pure and quite serious, with potential for development. Linear with well integrated oak (25% new). So stylish. 94/100 (R200)

The Old Road Wine Co Stone Trail Chenin Blanc 2018 Franschhoek
Was trellised until 10 years ago, but took out the trellis and irrigation. So now it’s high bush vines, on stony soils. 5 tons/hectare. This is lovely. Nice apple, pear and peach fruit with some lemony brightness. Has grapefruit freshness. Linear and focused with a long, taut, stony finish. Such good acidity. Some green tea hints. Racy and edgy. 95/100 (R330)

The Old Road Wine Co Grand-mère La Colline Single Vineyard Semillon 2017 Franschhoek
83 year old vineyard, 7000 vines a hectare, 1 kg a vine. 500 and 600 litre barrels, and 20% amphora. 20% new oak. Complex, concentrated, taut and linear with nice citrus fruit. 3.1 pH. Has powerful citrus fruit, with some oak spice, and a nice mineral core. Some stony, pithy notes on the finish. So stylish. 94/100 (650 R)

The Old Road Wine Co 12 Mile Syrah 2017 Coastal Region
Stellenbosch and Durbanville. Open one-ton fermenters then 12 months in barrel (25% new). Ripe and seamless but also fresh with some subtle pepper and herb notes, as well as a touch of roast coffee. Has a core of ripe fruit, but also freshness, with a grainy edge to the fruit. Lovely. 94/100 (R195)

The Old Road Wine Co Pepper Wind Syrah 2017
15% whole bunch into one-ton fermenters, then crush onto the top. 600 litre oak barrels. Peppery and fresh with nice brightness. Has a savoury edge with lovely restraint. Black cherries and some berries with lovely structure. This is a ringer for Northern Rhône, showing elegance, power and freshness. Has some spicy warmth on the finish. 95/100 (400 R)